Cookie recipes usually call for butter, and it is usually either softened or melted. If you’re curious about the differences, just know that melted butter makes cookies spread more so they’re thin and crispy, while softened butter makes the cookies thicker and chewier.
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
1. Thick vs. Thin Cookies
When you melt your butter, your cookies spread out more and therefore come out thinner and crispier. When you use softened butter, the cookies don’t spread out as much and you get cookies that are smaller, chewier, and thicker.
Both of these types of cookies are delicious, but as you can see, the texture and taste are both affected by the type of butter you use.
2. Melted Butter Equals a Richer Taste
Using melted butter in a cookie recipe means you’ll end up with a better flavor than cookies that contain softened butter.
Melted butter always makes very rich and flavorful cookies. Many people prefer the taste of cookies that have had melted butter added to them for this reason alone. By comparison, cookies made with softened butter sometimes taste a little bland.
3. Melted Butter and Browner Cookies
When using melted butter, you can count on your cookies turning brown a lot quicker. This means that for lighter-colored cookies, you’ll want to use softened butter.
This is because when you melt your butter, it alters the fat molecules’ structure, which makes them much more prone to browning as long as they’re exposed to some type of heat.
Check out this great video that explains the difference between using melted and softened butter in your cookies.
4. Softened Butter Equals Much Chewier Cookies
Melted butter always results in a crispier cookie, while softened butter creates a texture that is much chewier.
Baking cookies with softened butter results in the evaporation of the water in that butter, which automatically gives the cookies a chewier texture. Melted butter has no water and therefore creates a crispier texture.
5. The Overall Flavor Is Different
The intensity of the cookies’ flavor is perhaps the main difference between melted and softened butter. Melted butter produces a more intense flavor, while softened butter produces a taste that is a little more subtle.
When you want flavor that is more pronounced, you’ll want to use melted butter every time. If you’re more concerned about the fluffiness and texture of the cookies, you should use softened butter instead.
6. Softened Butter Gives You More of a Buttery Flavor
Using the right type of butter is an important consideration when you want cookies that are more buttery in flavor.
In general, softened butter gives you more buttery cookies, in part because softened butter tends to have a creamier texture, whereas butter that is harder sometimes has a more brittle texture in the end.
7. Temperature is the Key
Softened butter is considered a solid, while melted butter is obviously a liquid. Softened butter melts at a lower temperature than melted butter, which will behave like a liquid when it is melted.
But once it’s cooled down to room temperature, softened butter turns back into a solid and therefore doesn’t act like a liquid anymore.
8. Consistency Affects the Texture of the Cookies
One thing you’ll notice immediately is that melted butter and softened butter have very different textures and consistencies. Softened butter is always denser than butter that is melted.
The consistency of the final cookies is directly affected by what you do with your butter. Butter at lower temperatures becomes more fluid, while higher temps result in a decrease in water and a denser cookie.
Is Cold Butter or Melted Butter Better for Cookies?
Both cold butter and melted butter will make your cookies taste delicious, but both the taste and the texture are a bit different. One is not better than the other; they are just different.
Let’s take a closer look at these two options. First of all, using melted butter means:
- Spread-out, thin cookies
- Thinner, crispier cookies
- Browner cookies
On the other hand, using softened (cold) butter gives you:
- Fluffier cookies
- Thicker cookies that don’t spread out much
- Cookies lighter in color
The decision to use melted butter versus cold butter is a personal one and depends on your own preferences and tastes. Neither of these methods is the “better” method because everyone prefers a different type of cookie.
The important thing to remember is that these two types of butter will affect both the taste and texture of the cookies you make. Afterwards, you can decide for yourself which one you like best.
Why Should You Not Melt Butter for Cookies?
Some people like crispy cookies, while others prefer cookies with more of a cake-like texture. Crispy cookies need melted butter, so if you want a lighter and fluffier cookie, you’ll want to skip the melted butter and use softened butter instead.
If you also prefer a thicker and more tender cookie, choosing softened butter will help. There are numerous advantages to choosing softened or cold butter rather than melted butter. Once you determine which type of cookie you prefer eating, you’ll be able to decide exactly what to do with your butter.
Should You Melt Butter for Crispy Cookies?
You should melt butter for crispy cookies. Melted butter creates a crispier, browner cookie in the end. This is because the source of fat – butter in this case – has a low melting temperature. This results in a cookie that spreads much more as opposed to using a fat such as shortening.
When shortening is used, the cookie won’t spread as much and therefore will be thicker, fluffier, and a little more “airy.” Softened or cold butter is usually used for other types of cookies, so keep this in mind when deciding on a recipe.
Whether you want a thin and crispy cookie made with melted butter or a light and fluffy cookie made with softened butter, you now know just how to get it. Everybody has a preference when it comes to the taste and texture of their cookies, and it’s easy to get just that if you know how.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.